WACO (February 27, 2012) -- Baylor volleyball head coach Jim Barnes announced the 2012 regular season schedule on Friday, which includes 11 matches against NCAA tournament teams from last season.
All-told, Baylor’s upcoming schedule includes 31 total matches with 16 against Big 12 Conference opponents. The 15-match non-conference slate features four three-match tournaments, including the Fairfield Inn North Baylor Classic, as well as weekend round-robins at Hawai’i, McNeese State and Tulane. Baylor will face 17 teams that finished last season in the top 100 of the NCAA RPI.
“We put together another tough schedule and it should prepare us to fight at the top of the Big 12 and compete for a Big 12 title,” head coach Jim Barnes said. “Our 2012 team is loaded with talent, but we will be pretty young with 7 freshmen coming on board.”
The Bears will open the year on Aug. 24-25 at the Ferrell Center, hosting Prairie View A&M, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Tulane in the Baylor Classic. The Bears face Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the season opener on Friday night, followed by matches against Prairie View A&M and Tulane on Saturday.
“We have a very challenging non-conference schedule, highlighted by going on the road and over the ocean to Hawaii to take on 2010 NCAA runner-up Cal and eighth-ranked University of Hawaii,” Barnes said. “We will be on the road a majority of the non-conference schedule with only our home tournament starting Aug 24th and a single midweek non-conference home match.”
Next, the Bears will fly into the islands of the Pacific Ocean for a three-day, three-match tournament on Aug. 31-Sept. 2 in Honolulu, Hawai’i, against an elite field. They will face California, Hawai’i and San Francisco on consecutive days. UH ended the 2011 season with a Sweet 16 appearance and No. 10 ranking in the NCAA RPI, while Cal finished the season with a tournament appearance and ranked No. 32 in the RPI.
Baylor will round out the pre-conference tournaments consecutive weekends at McNeese State on Sept. 7-8 and Tulane on Sept. 14-15. In Lake Charles, La., BU will face Louisiana-Monroe, CSU Bakersfield and host McNeese State. Staying in Louisiana the following weekend, Baylor travels to New Orleans to face Binghamton, UTEP and host Tulane.
After mixing in non-conference matches against Texas State and North Texas, the Bears will have another tough road in the Big 12 with eight of 16 matches against four returning NCAA tournament teams. BU will open league play with three of those teams in Iowa State, Texas and Kansas State. Baylor will travel to ISU on Sept. 22, then return home for UT and KSU to being a stretch with five of seven matches at home.
“The Big 12 was the No. 1-rated conference in the nation last year in volleyball and part of that is because of how difficult each team schedules in the Big 12. The conference race will have a different look with the additions of TCU and West Virginia and the loss of Missouri and Texas A&M, but the strength of the conference won’t change much. The Big 12 had the highest percentage of teams qualify for the NCAAs with seven of nine teams getting in.
From there, the Bears will have back-to-back road games at Texas and Kansas State, followed by back-to-back home games against Kansas and Oklahoma. The final stretch of the season features four of the last five matches on the road. After traveling to new league members West Virginia and TCU, Baylor will host Iowa State on Senior Night for the second consecutive season on Nov. 17.
BU will then finish the regular season on the road with the final league match at Texas Tech on Nov. 21 and a non-conference season finale at SMU on Nov. 24.
Baylor is coming off its fourth straight winning season in 2011 after producing an 18-14 mark. The Bears also earned their second postseason berth in the last three seasons and claimed two all-Big 12 selections with middle blocker Briana Tolbert named the first team all-league squad and Adri Nora named to the all-freshman squad.